Rosslanders talk (plastic) trash; fire on our minds; and more . . .
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Janice Nightingale, Scott Forsyth, Dirk Lewis, Chris Bowman, and Stewart Spooner. Absent: Andy Morel. Staff members: CAO Bryan Teasdale, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Año Nuevo, CFO Elma Hamming, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Operations Darrin Albo, and Recreation Manager Kristi Calder.
Public Hearing: on a zoning change for 2650 Washington Street, to permit short-term rental of a suite the owner plans to establish by renovating an outbuilding/garage: No one spoke, so the hearing was adjourned immediately.
Plastic check-out bag regulation public input session: Moore introduced the topic, explained the aims of the bylaw and the City’s legal right to enact a ban. She also spoke about the fact that even so-called “biodegradable” and “compostable” plastics do not biodegrade – they just break down into micro-particles and become another form of harmful pollution. She noted that plastics use has increased vastly over the last 12 years, and also referred to the small percentage of plastics that are recycled – less than 11% in Canada – and then encouraged people to give their views.
A questionnaire was available for people to fill out.
One citizen expressed his thoughts that we don’t need a ban because “it can all be recycled.” He brought a “show and tell” – a recycling bin full of plastics bags. He held up pieces of one of the bags, which was falling into small pieces, and declared that it was “already biodegrading – it’s falling apart, even without being in the sun.” He held up many different bags and expounded on each one. He pointed out that the City is coming up to a contract renewal for the garbage pick-up. He wants to emphasize education and recycling instead of having a ban on check-out bags. “We can do some calculations, and some monitoring … ” He was prepared to go on speaking for some time, but Moore stopped him to allow others to contribute.
Another resident said she thinks it’s about time we have a bylaw like this, and looks forward to the time when it can be expanded to include other plastics.
Another resident spoke of a meeting of a few residents who want to reduce the use of plastics, and said the bylaw is timely, and that we need to reduce our dependence on plastics and the bylaw is a good way to begin changing behaviour.
Another resident spoke in favour of the bylaw, mentioning “the three “Rs” – one of which is “reduce.”” She noted that recycling isn’t as effective as people would like to believe. She also said she didn’t think the bylaw imposes a hardship on people.
Another resident spoke of the plastic crisis – and commented that only 11% of plastics are being recycled. She referred to the plastic garbage being returned to Canada from the Philippines. She listed a large number of types of plastic packaging – “We are absolutely drowning in plastic packaging and other plastic items.”
Another resident said he didn’t hear any disagreement with the need to reduce plastics, but he doesn’t agree with “imposing regulations on people.” He cited some research showing that “like many other well-intentioned laws, bans tend to back-fire.” He suggested that people will buy more plastic bags, and stated an opinion that paper and cloth bags do more environmental damage than plastic bags.
Another resident said she appreciates the initiative, and pointed out that she was on City Council at the same time as Moore when the issue first arose, and that a proposed ban was not as favourably received as it appears to be now. She commented that the word “ban” is generally resented. “I support this, I just want to encourage you to go gently along this road.” She spoke about how plastic bags can be re-used.
Moore responded by explaining that re-using bags is encouraged for businesses, in the same way that the Thrift Shop and the library have been re-using plastic bags. One attendee challenged Moore’s earlier statement that plastics use has increased in the last twelve years; he asked, “do you have proof of that?” Moore could not cite studies at that moment, so the attendee asked, “Then why would you say it?”
[Editor’s Note: this 2017 article in Atlantic magazine states that 50% of all the plastic ever manufactured was made in the past 13 years (as of 2017) : https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/07/plastic-age/533955/ The Plastic Oceans website states, “Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.”]
Public Input Period:
Samantha Segal spoke to her application for re-zoning.
Jill Spearn spoke about her concern that e-bikes are not allowed on KCTS trails. Spooner explained that it’s not a Council issue, but that he is happy to have a conversation with her and answer questions; but Spearn continued talking about the issue because she thinks Council needs to be kept in the loop on the topic, and said, “You’re going to see people out there on their e-bikes.” She also spoke about the place where the Eddie J trail crosses the highway, and said she thinks the sight-lines are not good. Spearn also asked about the funding source for the City’s FireSmart projects – Answer: grants cover most of the costs: at https://archive.news.gov.bc.ca/releases/news_releases_2017-2021/2019FLNR0120-000855.htm readers can learn that Rossland received $125,291 “to assist with education, planning, FireSmart demonstration projects, fuel and vegetation management, and FireSmart activities on private land.” Spooner noted that Teck has also paid for some FireSmart work to be done on Teck lands.
Delegation: Terry van Horne, for the LCIC, appeared with Bill Van Beek, and Wes Startup. She spoke to update Council on LCIC’s contribution to economic development indicators, including 19 new jobs created locally, and 9 new companies have relocated to the region. MetalTechAlley is a big part of the regional successes, and has now been trademarked. Was Startup expressed a fear that the region may miss opportunities because they lack the personnel to handle enquiries, so they’re seeking additional funding to support increased activities.
A motion to adopt the Recreation Fees and Charges Bylaw #2698 CARRIED unanimously, after a comment from Spooner that he’d like some of the charges to be examined more closely.
A motion to give third reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2699, to allow re-zoning for 2650 Washington Street, to allow short-term rental of a suite she wants to create, CARRIED unanimously. Spooner expressed some concern about the vehicular access, especially in the winter.
A motion to adopt Red Mountain Specified Area Tax Rate Bylaw #2700 CARRIED unanimously.
Council discussed a motion to give first reading to the new (and slightly different) Tax Revitalization Bylaw #2701; Nightingale commented that she thinks it provides a small benefit to new builds, while costing the city a lot. Bowman asked what the original purpose of the Revitalization Tax Bylaw when it was first created; Moore explained that it was to stimulate development and improve the appearance of the City. Lightbourne noted that a number of other communities have similar incentives and promote them widely. Spooner commented that when the economy slows, people want to stimulate growth, and when the economy heats up, people fear over-development. Nightingale felt that the City is, with this bylaw, paying (some of) a business’s taxes, while having difficulties paying our own costs. Spooner thinks the incentive is not a cost to the city.
Nightingale proposed an amendment that the tax revitalization not be available for new builds, but only to improving existing buildings. Spooner felt that he is not ready to vote on this proposed change. “Is this urgent?” Hamming pointed that the bylaw was just amended last year, and that Council could leave it as is for one year, to see how last year’s changes have worked.
The amendment CARRIED, and so did a motion giving first reading to the amended bylaw.
Staff Reports and Updates:
Council discussed a motion to approve a Development Variance Permit Application for 2701 Columbia-Kootenay Road, to allow a carport to be built with a reduced set-back from the road, on the condition that, to keep sightlines clear, the carport will never be allowed to have walls. A motion to approve the variance CARRIED, with Spooner opposed. Forsyth commented that construction materials, porta-potties and so on, are obstructing the road, and that should not be happening.
A motion to approve a Development Variance Permit Application for 2553 Washington Street, to allow a building with a detached secondary suite to be built two and a half metres (eight feet) taller than allowed in the bylaw, FAILED. Most of the additional height sought for the proposed building was to achieve a slanted roof instead of a flat roof.
A motion to approve the request from the Rossland Fall Fair core committee for the usual assistance CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to approve the Holly Borwick YAN service agreement, 2019 to 2022, CARRIED.
A motion to approve additional funding from the Gas Tax Community works fund in the amount of $121,066, to complete the Water Meter Upgrade, CARRIED unanimously. A query, “When will this end?” was heard; Hamming gave a brief update on the progress of the water meter upgrade operation.
Member Reports: Councillors reported on the meetings they attended as council liaison.
Moore reported, inter alia, that two new interface neighbourhoods have had well-attended FireSmart introductory sessions. Spooner commented that he had attended the session that Don Mortimer gave for the Friends of the Rossland Range, about “FireSmarting” the Recreation Site cabins, and said that ever since, “I’ve been walking around town, looking at all these firetraps, places with piles of wood right up against the houses and so on.”
Ed.: For information on FireSmart and how to protect your home, try this link: https://www.rossland.ca/rossland-firesmart-program
The meeting adjourned to an in camera session, and your reporter walked home in the balmy and fragrant evening, resolving to move a small stack of firewood well away from the house. Soon. There’s a place all picked out for it. As soon as the garden is mostly planted.